NYS WRITERS INSTITUTE
FILM DIRECTOR, TO SPEAK FOLLOWING SCREENING OF “FROZEN RIVER,” WINNER OF THE 2008 GRAND JURY PRIZE AT SUNDANCE
Monday, November 14, 2008
Courtney Hunt, film director and screenwriter, will speak following a screening of her acclaimed film, “Frozen River” (2008), winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, on Friday, November 14, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. [NOTE EARLY START TIME] in Page Hall, on the University at Albany’s downtown campus. The event is sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and is free and open to the public.
Film director Courtney Hunt will provide commentary and answer questions following a screening of her acclaimed independent feature film, “Frozen River” (United States, 2008, 97 minutes, color, 35 mm).
The film features a pair of single mothers— one white, one Mohawk— who are drawn into the lucrative and dangerous world of cross-border smuggling. Set in and around an Indian reservation in New York’s North Country, “Frozen River” took the top honor, the Grand Jury Prize, at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
In awarding the prize, Sundance juror Quentin Tarantino said that the film, “put my heart in a vise and proceeded to twist that vise until the last frame.” Writing in the “Washington Post,” reviewer Ann Hornaday said, “Written and directed by promising newcomer Courtney Hunt, [the film] possesses all manner of surprises. Made with uncommon skill and assurance, the film never succumbs to rank sentimentality, but it manages to get at the nuances of human relationships.” Writing in the “New York Times,” Stephen Holden said, “Venturing deep into the trenches where hard-working Americans struggle to put food on the table, Courtney Hunt’s powerful, somber film evokes a perfect storm of present-day economic and social woes.”
Hunt also wrote the screenplay of the film, which stars Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, Michael O'Keefe, and a recent member of the UAlbany Theatre Department faculty, Gargi Shinde, who plays an illegal Pakistani immigrant trapped in a particularly dangerous situation.
The film was also chosen as the opening feature of the prestigious New Directors/ New Films series at Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art in March. SONY Pictures Classics has acquired the film for general theatrical release toward the end of this year.
Courtney Hunt adapted the feature-length version of “Frozen River” from her 2004 short film of the same name. Hunt’s script was selected as one of six finalists in IFP New York’s emerging Narrative Feature Script Section in 2005, and was included in the Los Angeles Film Festival’s “Fast Track” Program in 2006.
Hunt received First Prize in Directing from New Line Cinema for her first short film, “Althea Faught” (1994), a tale of the Civil War that served as her MFA thesis at Columbia University’s Film School. The film aired subsequently on the PBS series, “American Playhouse.” Another feature script by Hunt, “Elfie Neary”, a period piece about cultural clashes on New York’s Lower East Side, will soon go into production.
A Tennessee native, Hunt makes her home in the Hudson Valley. “Frozen River” is set in her husband’s boyhood home town of Malone, NY.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620
or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.